How Conferences (like SDC) Develop Students Professionally

Face it. There is only so much you can learn in a classroom. Student development conferences provide the opportunity to peak into the lives of professionals across the board of the public relations world.

For students just starting out in their major wanting to make sure it’s for them, conferences can be very insightful. Panelists often talk about their career and how they started while describing the jobs they have. Not every job in your major will be the same but it can help pique your interest and guide you towards the path you wish to choose. On the flipside, if you attend a conference for your major and find it “just not for you”, it can still be beneficial down the line and you can always take the opportunity to explore other avenues.

First things first, do a bit of research on the conference you plan to attend. For example, find out what kind of sessions are offered and who will be there. This will help you determine what you’d like to get out of the conference. It also allows you time to craft questions you may have for panelists.

Now when it comes time for the conference itself, it’s a great way to network. Whether with fellow attendees or panelists, conferences provide a forum for students to meet people and put themselves out there. You may find yourself chatting with someone who could end up being a coworker years down the road! More often than not, panelists at student conferences tend to know of or have internship opportunities for students. Taking the time to talk with the people around you is how you can learn a great deal about different opportunities and find inspiration. When you talk with professionals and fellow students remember to be genuine, be yourself, and talk about what you feel passionate about. You’ll find the conversations will flow easier and you'll be able to remember your interactions with them just as they will be more likely to remember you. Developing relationships with professionals is a way to create mentorships and lifetime friendships that will enrich your career experience. Remember that one of the major keys to public relations is the ‘relations’ you create with others.

As previously stated, conferences can provide information on internships and jobs. Often panelists will speak on how they got to the point they are in their careers and it often comes down to the previous experiences they had before. Students can expect tips for how to craft a resume that will set them apart from other vying applicants and how to land the job they aspire for. If you are interested in an internship or jobs available where the speakers work be sure to inquire about them and what exactly they are looking for. You may also wish to consider asking to job shadow them for a day in the future.

Conferences provide a way for students to get themselves out there and learn more about their field of study through others. They provide professional development opportunities that are not as accessible in the classroom and can be critical for crafting networking skills. Luckily for EMU public relations students there are opportunities to attend such conferences. The past EMU PRSSA Student Development Conference and the Center of Digital Engagement Conference gave students the opportunity to network with professionals and learn more about different communication and marketing styles valuable to public relations. Students can look to different organizations and EMU community events for more opportunities to develop themselves professionally for their life outside of college as well.


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